American-African Summit: Mobilizing against China
During the period from 13 to 15 December 2022, the second US-Africa summit (the first was 2014) was held in Washington with the participation of representatives of about 49 countries of the continent. The summit was arranged several months ago; and its importance increased after the "Arab-Chinese" summit that took place in the Saudi capital Riyadh on 9 December 2022.
At this summit, five African countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and the Sudan) were not invited because of the suspension of the African Union following a wave of coups d 'état. Eritrea was not either invited; because it did not have diplomatic relations with the United States. Zimbabwe's president, Emerson Munjajwa, is not in attendance because he is under sanctions that ban him from entering the US for undermining democracy and committing human-rights abuses.
Concerning the roots of the summit, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, known as AGOA, has been the basis of United States economic policy with respect to trade cooperation with Africa since its promulgation in 2000. The Act has provided eligible sub-Saharan African countries with the opportunity to introduce more than 1,800 duty-free products into the United States market, but it has not contributed to the discovery of all the continent's potential. The Act expires in 2025, hence the 2022 Summit is a step towards examining new frameworks for cooperation.
Besides the law, the US-African Free Trade Agreement entered into force in January 2021 in conjunction with the growth of China's economic influence in Africa, which exceeded US averages, the data of the US Congressional Research Service revealed that in 2020 alone China concluded $735 billion agreements with 623 companies, and the value of 800 trade and investment deals with 45 African countries amounted to more than $50 billion in 2021, compared to the United States invested $22 billion in only 80 companies in Africa during the same period.
The second summit comes less than six months after the American-African Business Summit held between 19 and 22 July in the Kingdom of Morocco, with the participation of US government officials and officials from 50 African countries, and addressed the issues of health and food sovereignty, innovation, new technologies, renewable and traditional energies and infrastructure.
The summit also follows US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's announcement of the new US strategy for Africa in August 2022, under which the United States will pursue several key goals in Africa, including: opening up to societies, delivering democratic and security gains, recovery from the pandemic, economic opportunities, supporting climate conservation and adaptation, and a just energy transition.
Within the framework of these goals, the second summit discussed strengthening new economic partnerships, promoting peace, security and good governance, strengthening commitment to democracy, human rights and civil society, working collaboratively to strengthen regional and global health security, enhancing food security and responding to climate change.
Within the framework of these considerations, it can be said that the second "African-American" summit cannot be separated from the international and regional transformations witnessed by the world and the continent during the last two years, including the repercussions of the Corona crisis, especially the economic and social crisis on most countries of the world; and the countries of the African continent were among the most affected by these repercussions. On the other hand, there is the Russian expansion in the African continent, especially in the Sahelo-Saharan region, which is at the expense of French influence. On the third hand, the repercussions of the Ukrainian crisis and the need for the United States to unite the African ranks behind its decisions in international organizations, as well as the mobilization of African energies and capabilities, especially natural resources, to face the repercussions of this crisis.
A fourth and quite important aspect is the attempt by the US to contain the huge Chinese expansion on the continent, which has virtually become in China's economic grip. Such a situation would not only threaten the American influence in the continent but the top of the World Order as well. As such, the continent can be seen as one of the arenas of the "American-Chinese" Cold War; especially with China being keen to hold fixed periodic and sometimes emergency summits annually with the countries of the continent, while there is an 8-year gap between the first (2014) and the second (2022) summit by the United States and the countries of the continent.
Against this background, it can be said that the United States has lost much of its influence in the continent and needs a fundamental rethinking of its strategies, policies, and tools in dealing with the African continent and its key issues.